Cypress Development 1I collected this bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, in February of 2014. This specimen and the others I collected at the same time had already budded out for spring, but I figured they’d come back fine and almost all of them did; survival rates tend to be right at 80% for me, and this time was no different. Now, this particular tree sported a good set of fibrous roots near the trunk, so I took that as an opportunity to direct-pot the specimen into a nice Byron Myrick oval I had on hand. I wired the tree into the pot, packed the soil tightly amongst the roots, and waited the two months until spring came to my climate zone.


Cypress Development 2

I had planned to go with the flat-top style from the beginning, considering the nice gradual curve in the trunk and the taper. This is the sort of bonsai that can be made in just a few years, owing to the rapid growth of bald cypress especially in the apex. The species is powerfully apically dominant.

Thanks to the luxurious foliage of bald cypress, you can have a nice looking tree almost from the start. During winter, of course, the state of development becomes more apparent. At the same time, however, rapid growth for this species helps you build ramification very quickly.


Cypress Development 3My first task next year will be to pull the tree from its pot and do some root trimming. I noticed when moving the tree to photograph it that a root had grown through one of the drainage holes. This tells me the roots are most likely crowded, and that means by the end of the 2015 growing season they’ll be past time for pruning. I need to be able to maintain the health of the tree while continuing to develop it, and the first order of business in maintaining the health of your tree is to take care of the root zone. It’s the easiest part of any bonsai to overlook, since you can’t readily see it.


The trunk base of this tree is 3” above the root crown, and it stands about 28” from the soil surface.